Masvingo property survives auction over $3,5m debts

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CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has granted Masvingo Town Council a reprieve after interdicting the Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union (Zucwu) from auctioning the council’s property in a bid to recover $3 571 295 owed to the employees in salary arrears.

BY CHARLES LAITON

In a court order granted in chambers the Chief Justice said the execution of the council’s property in terms of the writ of execution issued in case No HC4011/11 would be stayed pending the determination of the proceedings in case No CCZ24/15 by the Supreme Court.

“The respondents (Zucwu) be and are hereby interdicted from removing from the applicant’s premises any further assets in execution pursuant to the writ of execution in case No 4011/11 pending the determination of the proceedings in case No CCZ24/15 by this honourable court,” Justice Chidyausiku said.

According to the court papers the attachment and removal of the council’s property was undertaken between the periods extending from November 30 2012 to January 4 2013 and has been kept by the Deputy Sheriff pending the determination of the legal dispute between the parties.

In his affidavit forming part of the urgent application, Masvingo town clerk Adolf Guzha said the attachment of the council’s property and its removal had resulted in compromising the city’s service delivery to its residents and stakeholders.

Guzha further said the removal of the equipment had also affected road maintenance and the general administration of the city.

“The motor vehicles placed under attachment and removed include the mayoral vehicle, motor vehicles used by supervisors in the refuse collection department, parks and gardens, and heads of departments’ vehicles,” Guzha said.

“The result has therefore been that, all functions which require managers and other officers to use motor vehicles have not been executed properly owing to the attachment of the large number of the vehicles.

According to Guzha, the dispute between the parties has its genesis in certain protracted collective bargaining negotiations about salary increments during the Zimbabwean dollar era.

He said there was an arbitral award which provided that all council workers should be awarded an increment across the board for the period between September 2008 and December 15, 2010.

The town clerk said Zucwu however, misunderstood the arbitral award to mean that there would be a 15% increment across the board which interpretation created disputes leading to the current court battles.